This Asian pub in St. Julian's is taking over the street food scene

At Kuya, Luke and Gabriel mix traditional Asian recipes with their own personal influences, creating dishes that are colourful, vibrant, and tasty

This is how the story goes. It starts off with a national base… think Malta, think brotherly love, give it an Asian remix by throwing in Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. Top it off with a world tour of international visitors and locals alike. If you were to draw up a map of Malta’s essential restaurants, you’d just have to include Kuya, an Asian food joint tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Paceville.

Luke Ferris, Gabriel Ferris & Clint Carabot
Luke Ferris, Gabriel Ferris & Clint Carabot

After their extensive travel throughout Asia, the owners, brothers Luke and Gabriel Ferris, became excited by the diversity of Asian cuisine. Taking what they learned on their travels and feeling inspired, they returned to Malta opening the first Asian Street Food establishment offering a variation of dishes across Asia together with the help of Diane, Gabriel’s wife. When it opened here in 2016, Kuya was a game changer that sent waves through the local restaurant scene. Good Asian food was limited in Malta. Kuya, though, was now home to dishes and ingredients otherwise not served locally.

Where most Asian restaurants in Malta solely offered Chinese food, Kuya took it one step further, offering a selection of dishes from across Asia all under one roof; Thai food to Vietnamese, you can find it all at Kuya. Mix and match a few or stick to one region – a meal at Kuya can span the continent, with as many combinations as you can think of.

Three years after opening, the food remains invigoratingly great and the space unquestionably charming. Luke and Gabriel remain totally committed to the restaurant with the help of Chef Clint Carabot, an essential part of the team who supports the brothers’ vision for the cuisine and makes sure all dishes are at the right standard and presented correctly before they go out to the customer.

I was invited to taste a few dishes which have been recently introduced on the menu… and I can tell you, the menu covers various aspects of Asian cuisine that has something for every palate. For starters we had steamed Bao buns…melt-in-the-mouth pork belly stuffed in soft, marshmallow like steamed buns along with peanut butter. Not a fan of peanut butter? There’s also the option for Japanese barbecue sauce. What’s more wrong? Eating just one or more? I can’t decide.

Next up was a plate of Hiyachi Chuka, a Japanese cold ramen noodle salad. The dish is unlike any other served at any other Asian spot in Malta. Looking for something a bit more refreshing as the hotter months approach? You can now still fulfil your passion for ramen in a summer appropriate way with this chilled ramen salad. It is the ultimate solution to your ramen cravings when the weather is just too hot for a steaming bowl of noodles and bone broth. A medley of thinly sliced vegetables is piled up with cold noodles. Don’t be fooled by the vegetable-heavy spread; this dish is sure to fill you up. At Kuya, cold ramen salad isn’t about eating ramen soup cold, but more about treating the broth as a dressing; a flavourful dressing which is brighter, lighter, a little bit sweet and sour, but still very savoury. We can guarantee this dish still delivers the same blast of flavour as its boiling counterpart.

We went on to explore the flavours of Thailand’s national dish as we were served a hearty plate of Pad Thai; stir fried noodles full of flavour from the fish sauce, chilli, veggies and spices. The tofu was also a nice addition; a nice, firm texture that blended nicely with the vegetables and noodles. My Pad Thai cravings were definitely satisfied.

We ended (with some encouragement – at this point we were full to bursting) with a deconstructed version of a Banofee pie… The ‘Not Banofee’; a banana and toffee explosion featuring vanilla ice-cream rather than whipped cream. I can tell you that Kuya have managed to give the classic Banoffee pie a major face lift… who needs all that cream anyway? A refreshing end to a meal packed with flavour and one I am certainly eager to return to.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but I look forward to working my way through the entire menu. A good restaurant experience is not only just about the food. Kuya delivers on all fronts; food, service, staff, ambiance. There’s a good reason why this restaurant is garnering a devoted clientele. There might always be other restaurants with the same concepts popping up around Malta… it’s been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery after all. Kuya must be doing something right and this is why it remains the best in Asian street food cuisine. If you’re looking to taste the true authenticity of Asian foodwhile in Malta, we strongly recommend a trip to Kuya.

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 2 Triq Ross, San Ġiljan

2713 6517